So the world motored on in a maelstrom of constant happenings. Russia sent forces to the Kharkiv region in Eastern Ukraine amid Kyiv’s continued fight back despite the odds. Sky high energy prices in the UK were forcing businesses to close and offering the new Prime Minister Lizz Truss solid political capital when her early pronouncement was to reassure citizens that no one was going to be cut off from energy supply whether or not they could afford to pay. As speculation swelled that Donald Trump was running for Washington again in 2024 a complicated web of investigations, civil suits, and countersuits were launched against the former president. A court in Thailand suspended the Prime Minister. Another Israeli Airstrike in Gaza killed more than eleven people. Fresh covid cases hit tourist hubs in Tibet and Hainan as China battled the outbreak. Brazil’s President Bolsonaro was throwing shades at Supreme Court justices and sowing doubt Trump-style ahead of upcoming Presidential elections. Darkhorse William Ruto won the election in Kenya giving hope to ‘Obidients’ in Nigeria, just as the words ‘vote wisely’ began to sound like a threat in certain quarters. Heck, Chelsea sacked a Champions league winning coach and replaced him with a greenhorn with flambouyant style the same day Queen Elizabeth II passes on to glory.
At 225 Katakata Street, Irikefe and Castro only wanted to know why the new albino tenant would name his only son carbondioxide.
“Is that his name?” Yes, Prince White said, as he continued to perspire profusely in his drab suit. .
“Carbondioxide?” Irikefe echoed.
“You born am inside lab?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“God abeg ooo!”
“Please explain that phrase.”
Castro dragged Irikefe to a corner.
“Aswear e be like say Alhaji Sirika dey use this compound dey do experiment. Where hin dey see all these kind people? First na Agbonyibo with hin crooked back, then Alfa with him battalion and Iniquity. Now this one!”
Irikefe scratched his head. “Guy I no just know. How I wan run this kind thing now?”
“Mr Irikefe please don’t keep us waiting. Oxide, oya come begin dey carry awa things go inside!
“Mr Irikefe!” Castro mimicked and chuckled. That was a new one.
Oxide broke into a dance to an imaginary song in his head. He grabbed a small rolled mattress that could fit under an armpit and chucked it there. With the other hand, he picked a plastic bucket that contained plates and bowls, and cooking utensils. It was when they got to the front of Irikefe’s door that Irikefe realized the problem. Castro spoke as he stood scratching his head.
“Na only this one door una get. Bros you don get new family.”
“Tell me, young friend,” Mr Cosmas said, seeing that Ndifreke needed prompting. It was a chilly evening following rain showers that had most of the compound members ensconced in their rooms, helped by the improved electricity supply Lagos was enjoying at the time. Ndifreke avoided his place and went straight to Mr Cosmas’ self-contained on his return from the prophetess’. He peeked at his phone and shuddered. “I’m in the room waiting for you. It’s raining. I’m naked.” From a fifteen-year-old. What had he gotten himself into?
“The woman consults in the church vestry and lives there. It’s not worshiping day so people who want to see her go there. I understand on worship days everything happens in the main building. There were others seated on a bench awaiting their turn. Three people were ahead of us. Each spent approximately thirty minutes with the woman. When it was our turn, we went in. She sat in a chair and there was a small wooden centre table separating her and the two chairs opposite her for guests. She saw a maximum of two at a time if they were together. The table was covered with white cloth and it had a bell, a vase with artificial roses, and a white bible on it. We greeted her and Elizabeth introduced me as a friend. The woman was surprisingly young and I dare say beautiful. Had silky chocolate skin and spoke good English. She didn’t ask any questions. She just returned our greeting and said we should pray. I closed my eyes, she prayed, and when she finished she started telling me about my life. Mr Cosmas…I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“Go on,” Mr Cosmas said.
“She said my people in the village were responsible for all my problems. She said they teamed up with the witches in the compound where I live to derail my destiny. She said there was an old woman and infant child that were witches there and manifested as birds that they helped my people to mess up my life. I told her about the dream and she said it was God revealing to me the source of my problems. She told me Maya was my soulmate with whom I was to achieve great things. She told me that the enemies saw this and planted discord between us. She said everything that happened was they trying to keep us apart. She said my appetite for women was unreal. That what I heard in my dream explained everything. She said I should stop every relationship I have now and return to Maya.
“I confessed that I did not see how that was possible given that I was now involved with Maya’s sister with Maya’s tacit blessings. But she said Maya was not happy about it. She said that if we continued that there would be a serious problem between the sisters that would take someone’s life. She affirmed that the child Maya is carrying was mine. That I should go and beg her and take her out of this compound as soon as I could. She said I will first fast and pray for seven days and on the seventh day I should return to the church and they would consecrate water for me to have my bath and cleanse me. She assured me that as soon as I did that that the evil hands on my case would wither away and my appetite for women, which was unnatural, would diminish and Maya would take me back. She said I should have been free when the witch died but that I was already too deep into it such that liberation would only come if I did as the Holy Spirit directed. What do you think sir?”
“Do as she said.”
“Is she right? Is it true I was reprogrammed to be promiscuous? How can I get back with Maya after everything? What will I do with Clementina? As we speak she is on my bed naked waiting for me.”
“How did your friend feel?”
“We were silent all the way back home. She only said goodbye when we got here and went inside her compound. I know that it was a final goodbye.”
“Send her a text later and thank her. She may have saved your life.”
“I thought you said we did not need prophets and could go it all alone?”
“You must first learn to walk before you can fly. We are at different stages of development. For some, their starting point may even be a visit to the shrines of their ancestors. How do you expect people who cannot grasp the concept of keeping their thoughts pure to stave off evil currents with their own auras? They need help. In your case, you will do what the prophetess has said and in faith. But it all would have been unnecessary if you stood aright from the beginning.”
“What did I do wrong? What could I have done?”
Mr. Cosmas ignored the question and went on. “Do not think for a moment that you can blame any witch or wizard for what has become of you. Darkness will be darkness and do what darkness does. It behoves on you to radiate light at the appearance of which darkness dissipates. You had barely figured out where your first meal would come from when you started fooling around with Maya. The dark ones when they came saw the hole from where they could enter and did. Had you gotten your priorities right from the beginning, no power in hell as your pastors like to say would have come near you. As your holy book says, they shall surely gather…but whoever gathers against thee shall fall for thy sake. However, that passage does not mean that you turn yourself into a cesspit and expect not to have dirt thrown onto you. They gathered, they came, and they met you wide open and they majestically entered. It was your entire fault. If you were standing well, just one word of pure volition from you and they would have run 440 to hell where they belong. When you get out of this, practice the one true thing that would keep you far and above all principalities and powers, which is to keep the hearth of your thoughts pure, and from there you will see the wonders of the Almighty in your life.”
“Alhaji, there is only one door for the two rooms. It means we will be living together.”
“And what is wrong with that?”
“Everything is wrong with that sir. I and the caretaker!”
“You lost some of your privileges because of your behaviour.”
“I accept. I even accepted to move into one room but we forgot that the rooms are now in pairs with a single entrance and I don’t know them from Adam.”
“Prince is a nice guy. You will like him.”
“But we can’t be sure! What if he is a homo like your Agbonyankee? What if they don’t clean their nyash after they shit and they come and sit on my chair? What if they sleep with their eyes open or talk in their sleep? Already the man is talking to me and he is facing Ajegunle and his eye is blinking like Christman light! It’s scaring the devil out of me sir. Imagine seeing that at night!”
“You are prejudiced and discriminatory. Your lack of higher education is the only failing of my late friend that I can’t forgive him for.”
“Please sir. Okay create another door to the corridor through the inner room I have given them.”
“It will deface the house. You enter the corridor and see two doors close to each other on one side and on the other side it is different. Will people not think that it is a madman that built the house? Now, go and learn to live with your new neighbors, and don’t be late to work.”
As soon as they had put their things in the inner room Carbondioxide came out to Irikefe’s room and dived onto the bed. Irikefe hefted him by the collar and threw him out to the corridor headfirst. His father charged at him and Irikefe held him in a headlock until neighbors separated them. He knew the arrangement was not going to work. He rang Alhaji Sirika before anyone else would.
“It will not work Alhaji.”
“I’m sorry there’s nothing else I can do.”
“I may have to look for a new place to live then.”
Ndifreke walked into the room and Clementina rose to meet him. True to her words, she did not have any clothes on. She seemed fuller than she was when he was last with her. He did not know where he got the strength from, but he was able to untangle her hand from his neck and disengaged from the tight embrace she met him with. He guided her to the bed and made her sit. He reached for his wrapper and threw it around her. Clementina followed his actions like a stunned puppy. He then closed his eyes and shook his head to clear it.
“We have to stop this.”
“You know what?”
“I know that we cannot continue seeing each other.”
“Oh…That’s great. So ehm…that means you understand that you must put on your clothes now and go back upstairs.”
“I know,” she said. She did not break her gaze. She kept her eyes firmly locked with his until Ndifreke looked away, stood, and faced the door.
“I’m sorry I did this to you. I was weak and vulnerable. One day when you are able to see things clearly, you would understand how bad this was and I ask that you find it in your heart to forgive me. I was supposed to be your big brother. I failed.”
Clementina stood and cast the wrapper aside and embraced him from behind, pressing her breasts into his back and wrapping her hands around his waist, and letting her hands rest on his belt buckle.
“You have nothing to apologise for. I will never regret being with you. If anything, I know that this is the reason you will get back with my sister. She thought she had gotten over you until we happened. Though she has not said it, I can sense something that tells me that she never got over you and will take you back if you pressed.”
“How can that be when we have…I mean, this is bad. You will always be there!”
“No, I will not be. I actually came to say goodbye and have you one last time. I have made up my mind what I want to do with my life and there is no going back.”
“And what is that if I may ask?”
Clementina chuckled and undid his belt. Ndifreke held her hands and stepped away from her.
“No. Please get dressed and leave.”
“Please Ndi. You won’t see me again after today.”
“What is that supposed to mean? Where are you going?”
“You are going to have to fuck that information out of me.”
“Good gracious Clementina. Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.”
She was on her knees in front of him in a flash and undid his belt. This time he could not find the strength to stop her. He knew he should not have come to the room. He knew he should have called or texted her to leave and then waited until she had gone. Could it be that he subconsciously wanted her again? Or had he believed his delusion that one visit to a church and prophetess had changed who he had become?
Clementina was a child only to those that saw her growing up. In body, action, and words she was every bit a woman. A desirable woman with every charm and nuance associated with that species. He saw that he had not known an erection as turgid as the one she just unearthed from his boxers. She put him in her mouth and went to work on him. Ndifreke found that he was somewhat detached from what was going on then. It was as if there were two of him in the room. One performing and the other watching. He paid attention to the version of him that was watching.
What was it that he really gained from that experience? Was what was happening to him then enough for him to stand by and watch his life crumble before him?
She guided him to the bed, removed his jeans and boxers, and went astride him. She rode him like a woman possessed, mouthing profanities and at the same time being able to lick her own nipples.
“You’re so hard papi. You fill me up so nicely papi. Don’t dare come yet papi. Ndi. My Ndi. Oh Ndi!”
He continued to watch. How was this the only thing he thought about for so many of his waking hours? It felt good true, but the man lying there looked every inch an animal. Where was the go-getter that dreamt of conquering the world at twenty-five? Where was the man his whole community looked up to as the one that was going to bring light to his people? He remembered the day he left home five years before. He remembered the words of his father and the prayers of his mother. He had assured them he would go to Lagos, work hard, come back, and take them out of poverty. But there he was wriggling under a woman like a boa. He would finish, eat some food, fall asleep and do it again tomorrow. Just then Clementina shuddered and spasmed and muffled a cry and collapsed on top of him.
She stayed there and regained her breath and then rolled over and lay beside him.
To his surprise, she put her hand by the side of the bed and produced a pack of cigarettes, mouthed one, and lit it up.
Ndifreke became one person again. He had been too detached to feel anything enough to reach an orgasm.
“Yes, I smoke. Jonjo taught me too.”
Ndifreke stayed silent.
“You barely moved. You’re still hard. You couldn’t cum. You felt nothing.”
Still, he would not speak. His father smoked in the house too. He knew how to cope with secondhand smoke.
“I opened a Tinder account and a few other hookup accounts registering as an eighteen-year-old. My first job is a weekend in Abuja from tomorrow. The guy is fine! I did a video call with him and he could not believe his luck. He showed me his dick. Big as yours.”
“Don’t preach to me Ndi. It’s too late. Y’all are still foolishly calling me a child. How do you grow up here, see the things I’ve seen, hear the things I’ve heard, and still be a child? I decided on this lifestyle because I like sex. I am blessed in that regard. Not all girls do. I know some from school. Imagine having a body like mine and not be able to take dick, when everywhere you turn men want to fuck you.” She took another drag of her cigarette and exhaled slowly, blue smoke seeping out of her nostrils.
“My relationship with Maya is damaged for good. I like it like that. I want her to have a life and stop playing Mother Theresa at twenty-two. I will be fine. Promise me you will do everything within your power to get her back and you will take care of her.”
“I promise. But what about school? Where will you live?”
“I will live wherever I find myself. But I will keep most of my things at the flat in Surulere. One can find me there if I’m not in school and if I have no work. Jonjo is happy for me to stay there.”
Ndifreke swallowed. “You asked him?”
“Yes. And we fucked again. Yesterday.”
“You went to see him?’
“He invited me over. It was after that that I made my decision.”
“Shhhhh. I am not the first and I will not be the last girl from a fucked up family with a shitty upbringing who would end up in the streets. I’m lucky because I like the possibilities with my body and I will do it with my full chest. If I work hard enough, who knows, I can retire at twenty.”
“You are too young!”
“Please shut up Ndi. One day, I will ask the question of why I started menstruating at ten and not at eighteen. Why my boobs and ass are so big already when I am supposed to be a child? Why my pussy gets wet when I am touched or if I touch it if all I am supposed to do with it is pee. Why is it that I can get pregnant at this age? Does God not know what he is doing? If I were born in certain cultures, I would have been a mother four times already.
“There are not too many options open to me now. I do not want to wait until I am shown the door. Or lurk around here and get molested by these poor dirty men or open my legs for rascals like Irikefe and Castro because I really want to be fucked every day. So I will go out to the world and use what I have to survive on my own terms.
“Let me remind you. I am a child with a dead witch mother. My brother is mad and in the asylum. My father is in prison for raping my sister. I have just been fucking my pregnant sister’s boyfriend. Hello, life!
She Stubbed out her cigarette, stood up, and got dressed. She finished and glanced at Ndifreke and saw that he was still hard. She took off her clothes again and said “One for the road.”
TO BE CONTINUED.